TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Schools Prohibit Personal E-mail Sites

Re: Schools Prohibit Personal E-mail Sites
14 Jun 2005 14:58:46 -0700

Fred Atkinson wrote:

> Is it really harder [to find trashy books]?

Yes, it is. Porn books supposedly do not allow minors to enter. Porn
bookstores are often off the beaten track. I dare say there are a lot
more legitimate bookstores and newstands than porn stores out there.

To find other trashy printed material, one must make somewhat of an
effort, such as to find and get to a specialty store.

> Have you ever visited a pornographic book store?

No. I have heard from several sources that beyond the items they
sell, they also serve as a meeting place to set up liasons; and some
activity takes place in back rooms.

> If not, do you deny they are out there or what kind of books are
> distributed?

Of course not. But they are harder to get than ordinary books.

> Have you ever seen 'The People versus Larry Flynt'?


> And there's a lot of stuff published by hate groups and other
> extremists, too. Do we give up freedom of speech to keep this stuff
> from being disseminated?

Again, it is harder to find hate group literature than ordinary
publications. The stores in my town have a rack for the free
community newspaper and several have racks for newspapers and
magazines. However, none stock any hate speech literature. Obviously
that stuff is around if one chooses to go out and search for it. My
point is that in hard copy it is harder to find.

> If we shot everyone who was wrong about something, most of us would be
> dead, wouldn't we?

Your point being?

>> But I know there are some computer users out there who are quite
>> malicious, and some of them will go to considerable trouble to post
>> seriously misleading advice or information just to be an SOB or
>> satisfy their own immaturity. They thrive on the anonymity of the
>> Internet. Presently, there is no real check or balance on such web
>> pages.

> There are telephone users who are quite malicious (ask the telephone
> company as they have to investigate obscene and/or harrassing callers
> from time to time), their are licensed automobile drivers who are
> quite malicious (I've nearly been hit by more than a few), there are
> truck drivers who are quite malicious (and I drove eighteen wheelers
> for just under a year and I know), there are police officers who are
> quite malicious, and the list goes on and on. But for the most part,
> the intentionally malicious ones are very much in the minority. And
> I've had more than one police or security officer in trouble with his
> superiors over completely inappropriate behavior that I observed.
> That is because I determined it was inappropriate and I dealt with it
> by contacting superiors. What if I hadn't been afforded the
> opportunity to learn to be able to determine that it was indeed wrong?
> The behavior they exhibited and inflicted upon others would have
> continued.

You are making an apples to oranges comparison. You are talking about
_actions_ that have always been around, my point was about
_information distribution_ that is a new thing. Yes, you have
channels to do something about bad cops, but what are the channels to
deal with a web site giving out bad info? AFAIK, not a thing, even if
the information is really bad. In extreme cases, where the aggrieved
have a lot of money (ie Hollywood stars), they can take legal action;
most of us don't have that luxury.

> And it goes back to not believing everything you read or hear. Kids
> have to learn to balance it sometime. Depriving them of that
> information robs them of the chance to learn to decide for themselves.

Are you saying there should be no age restrictions on what kids can
see or read (ie "R, X, NC-17" rated movies, X-rated literature?)

Are you saying you would have no objection of some kid brought in and
distributed hate literature at an elementary school?

Are you saying you would have no objection if someone put up a
non-traceable offshore website saying the most vile things about you,
your family, and your job? Or if someone distributed literature
around the neighborhood calling you a criminal of the lowest sort who
ought to be ejected from the neighborhood?

> And what about schools that took books like that off the library
> shelves? What about Huckleberry Finn? Tom Sawyer? And the list goes
> on and on? With Mark Twain's writing style as it was, it would be be
> considered quite racist by today's standards. Do we censor it? Of
> course not.

I stand by my statement that schools and libraries 'censor' reading
materials all the time, for a variety of reasons.

Who decides what is "literature" and what is "trash"?

There are a zillion books out there and schools and libraries do not
have the money for every one. They must make choices on what to buy.
They also make choices on what to discard. Is that "censorship"?

> And it is the reader's job to decide how they feel about who is
> posting or writing and whether their views should be taken seriously.

Yes, it is.

But that job is made harder by the Internet, when it is harder to have
a benchmark to judge the quality of a work, especially on an
unfamiliar topic.

I will generally give an article in the New York Times more
credibility than an article in a supermarket tabloid because I know of
the quality concerns of each publisher. But what is the quality of
some website?

For instance, recently Robert B and I had an debate here on various
legal issues and we disagreed. How would an outside reader,
unfamiliar with the law, know who, if any, is correct or as you say,
"to be taken seriously"?

I know my local newspaper, before publishing a guest editorial or news
article, requires substatiating claimed facts. They would not except
either of our posts without some backup, and would also consult with
their inhouse sources. Thus, a reader of the newspaper has more (note
I didn't say total) confidence in accuracy than something on the 'net.

> Are we really protecting the kids when we deprive them of the
> opportunity to learn to decide for themselves? Or are we going to
> have to protect them from it all their lives? And if they don't
> learn, who's going to protect *their* kids? And what about when we
> pass on and leave them to their own judgement?

Certainly kids do learn to decide for themselves but kids also
need protection, too.

Most kids in third grade aren't ready to learn calculus so we don't
tell them about it. Likewise with other subjects that may be too
advanced for a kid to properly and safely understand. Otherwise, the
right to vote and legal status would be in effect at birth rather than
age 18.

Some kid in my area was just arrested for having a very considerable
amount of bomb making chemicals in his room at home. The kid was
making bomb threats at school. How did the kid get these dangerous
chemicals? How did he learn about them? Did the kid fully understand
the import of what he was doing?

To put it another way, should be we bother with childproof locks
on gun cabinets?

Regarding your comments on whacky radio ideas, I agree about free
speech. However, how would you feel if someone had a nice looking web
page filled with the stuff you heard -- given as advice to new users?

Lisa Hancock

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